Natural Resource Condition Assessments for Catoctin Mountain Park

The Natural Resource Condition Assessment (NRCA) Program provides framework, funding, and publishing support to parks to aid in the synthesis and documentation of natural resource conditions. Condition assessment reports are a tool to describe selected park resources, and record a snapshot of their current condition, identify trends, and identify potential or current threats and stressors. Understanding the condition and trend of natural resources is key for parks and NPS planners to appropriately prioritize and allocate stewardship resources.

The setting sun shining through a stand of trees in a forest.
Catoctin Mountain Park.

NPS/Victoria Stauffenburg photo.

Catoctin Mountain Park encompasses the forested landscape located in the mountains of the Catoctin Ridge in north-central Maryland. In the 18th and 19th centuries the land was extensively logged to support local agriculture practices and to produce charcoal for the nearby iron works furnace. It then became a Recreation Demonstration Area under the National Industrial Recovery Act of 1933, and was transferred to the National Park Service in 1936.

Today, a mixed hardwood forest covers nearly 95% of the park. Many plants and animals, including several Maryland Threatened and Endangered species, thrive within this forest sanctuary. The high gradient streams, Big Hunting Creek and Owens Creek, run clean and support healthy populations of brown and brook trout. Catoctin Mountain Park is a very diverse place that offers respite to the plants and animals that depend on its existence. Its peaceful environment also provides a needed escape from the everyday hustle and bustle of city life for all people.

Traditional NRCA Report: 2013

In an effort to better understand the natural resources and processes within this park, a Natural Resource Condition Assessment was conducted and published in 2013. Several National Park Service managers and representatives examined the available data and current needs of the park, and assessed the pertinent indicators within four main resources:

- Air quality

- Water resources

- Biological integrity

- Landscape dynamics

Overall the natural resources in Catoctin Mountain Park were in a moderate condition. Water resources and landscape dynamics were in good condition, biological integrity was given a condition rating of moderate concern, and air quality was given a condition rating of significant concern. The park faces persistent threats such as invasive species and diseases, deer overpopulation, increasing stream water temperature, air quality, and development of lands adjacent to the park. Resource managers will continue to support and conserve the important resources in Catoctin Mountain Park for years to come.

For other reports and natural resource datasets visit the NPS Data Store.

Source: Data Store Collection 7765 (results presented are a subset). To search for additional information, visit the Data Store.

Last updated: June 24, 2022


  • Site Index